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Zach James Douglas: 'Even As The Knife Went Through'

Former member of Irish, post-indie band ‘Little One’, Zach James Douglas embraces the world of solo artistry with his second track ‘Even As The Knife Went Through’.

Admittedly, with the eager whispers of live shows making a – hopefully not too long – comeback, Zach’s emotionally rich single makes me excited to see his contributions to a recovering music industry. What better way to recover than with a cathartic combination of intimate lyricism and the dulcet vocals of featuring artist, Saoirse.

For those fortunate enough to have seen the Irish producer at festivals such as Glastonbury and Electric Picnic with aforementioned band ‘Little One’, this is very exciting to see the newly-turned solo artist incorporate flavours from the high-energy instrumentals that Little One is associated to and his own personal twist.

We have seen in previous works like his debut single ‘Something/Anything’, that ZJD is experimental with chill-synth embellishments to sweet, fragile vocals, showcasing his impressive production skills and ‘Even As The Knife Went Through’ is no exception to his talent.

With that said, let’s get stuck into this new addition to my playlist.

I particularly love that this single is true to the alternative indie genre; the influences of Sylvan Esso’s signature electronic instrumentals, paired with a hint of The 1975’s poignant edge heard within ‘Somebody Else’ is magical. Zach not only pays homage to the genre in this way, but he injects his unique experimental vibe which makes him someone to watch for. In ‘Even As The Knife Went Through’, the unique style resides in the contrasting elements of cute, quaint electronic beats in the intro and the sudden mixture of tempos with the added mellow piano tones when we reach the chorus for that sweet, dynamic ride of emotion.

Another reason I really gel with this single is that it is, simply put, a raw invitation to the songwriter’s struggles with loving the wrong person. The lyrics are relatable and vulnerable: ‘…wanting me for reasons that I’ll never know / while lusting for affection that I’ll never show / because it died with us’, which cements this song, in my mind, as an excellent example of when songwriters are true to their content and thus, their increasing amount of fans. Typically, I would’ve thought pairing such poignant lyricism with high frequency beats - usually seen in feel-good songs - would have diminished the emotional impact of the content; however, in this instance, it actually gives the song a dance element that immediately grabbed my attention with the plethora of tonal depth this single has to offer.

After listening several times, the cute electronic beats that act as the riff for the entire song, reminds me of the distinct flare of retro 8-bit music, slowed to suit the natural instruments used in the track. It left me with a smile, evoking happiness from nostalgia and softening the morose message of the song. This is something I haven’t seen incorporated in alternative indie in this regard and it’s quite impressive how well the elements complement one another. With a song like this, I would encourage the listeners to channel their inner gamers and listen via high-quality headphones to experience the small nuances that make this song a joy to write about.

The song remains impactful start-to-finish, concluding with an abrupt stop to the tender crescendo produced by Saoirse as she sings the lyrics: ‘but it keeps holding on’. This leaves the listener on an ambiguous note, not knowing if there is a positive resolution in the song – another feature of realism I admire within Zach’s work, sometimes there is just no clear-cut happy ending, and this is why I like songs like this – it leaves you reflecting on the stylistic choices afterwards.

This song is an immersive rollercoaster of intriguing production and home-hitting content, another excellent single from ZJD. I look forward to hearing the true extent of his talent and undoubtedly, will be adding his future singles to my ‘Cracking Tunes Gromit’ playlist!

Article By Rebecca Todd

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